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Edition 7: Design, Built and Civic

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EDITORIAL T he founders of America designed, in fits and starts��� after acrimony and ill will, the mercifully short-lived Articles of Confederation and robust dissent���a remarkable Constitution, one with a built-in facility for change. Attributed substantially to James Madison, the emerging document was open to all for comment and revision, derision and eventual accord. But, designed it was. Individual founders also designed houses and barns (Washington), window treatments, houses, bookcases, a copy machine and a university (Jefferson), gardens and walls (John Adams), lightning rods, fire brigades, stoves, books and newspapers (Franklin) and reimagined and redesigned their domicile (Madison). Others designed their own libraries, plantations and kitchen gardens. I recall reading something about improving saddles, not to mention aspects of components of early naval ships and much needed byways in virgin forests. Still others designed concepts, for instance a national bank and the Bank of New York (Hamilton). As mentioned, Madison, the principal author of the Constitution, substantially redesigned Montpelier, his Virginia estate. He, as did many of the others, filled their precarious world, at the edge of a vast wilderness, with diverse artifacts; some Native American (Jefferson), French furniture (John Adams), European art (Madison) and Chinese artifacts (from our early trading frenzy with the Chinese due to embargoes). Few leaders today, if any, have by necessity or inclination, such an intimate interest in the design of the built world. Others continue to embrace given Constitutional designs, HYLAND

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